Why Picture Books Are Important by Chris Barton
Picture books are important because they’re a great way for parents and their children to begin a childhood-long habit of reading together. The text is typically brief enough to allow for lots of experimentation with lots of different sorts of picture books, which allows for the discovery of what both parent and child enjoy, individually and mutually. The words used – words that may not come up in everyday life – will grow the vocabulary of the younger reader (and often of the older reader, too). The physical size of picture books means the art is generally large enough to grab the attention of kids who may not yet grasp the words while also giving parents much to visually admire and appreciate.
And be it fiction or nonfiction, the subject of a picture book can introduce moms, dads, and little ones alike to unfamiliar facets of our fascinating world, which in turn can lead to some pretty marvelous conversations between the generations. The resulting hunger for more of what’s not yet known can be a powerful force in the lives of readers of all ages. But just as powerful are the memories and bonds formed and strengthened by that time a smaller reader spends in a larger reader’s lap, followed by the hours those readers sit enjoying books side by side, followed eventually, perhaps, by the shared enjoyment of a book read separately down the hall from one another or across many miles. That continuing connection years down the road will mean more than a parent can imagine at the outset, and it often begins with picture books.
About Chris Barton
Chris Barton is the author of the picture books Shark vs. Train and The Day-Glo Brothers. His newest book is Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet, and 2015 will bring his picture book biographies The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition. Chris and his wife, novelist Jennifer Ziegler (Revenge of the Flower Girls), live in Austin, Texas, with their family. For more information about Chris, his books, and his presentations to students, writers, educators, and librarians, please visit him at ChrisBarton.info.
Picture Book Month Daily Theme: Ocean
Students can grow their own vocabulary by creating an alphabet book about something they love to do (like video games) or another part of their world (like “my home” or “the school library”).
Using Chris Barton’s Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! as inspiration, have children choose their own topic to build the alphabet around. But watch out, certain letters will be difficult. Be sure to have dictionaries handy and provide assistance when needed.
For a bonus, students can illustrate their alphabet or display it on a poster.
Correlates to the Common Core Reading Foundational standards: RF.K.2, 3a; RF.1.2, 3a; RF.2.2, 3; Speaking and Listening standards SL.K.5; SL.1.5; SL.2.5; Language standards L.K.5a; L.1.5a; L.2.5a
LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS OF YOUNGER GRADES: Create an alphabet list together using items found in the classroom or library. How many items can the children find that start with “A” or even more difficult “X”? The focus should be on the sounds that the letters make, as well as letter recognition both visually and phonetically.